Mental Illness and Daily Cannabis Use

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Mental Illness and Daily Cannabis Use

April 18, 2019

Self-medicating mental health disorders in the United States occurs frequently. Millions of men and women turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms of psychological distress. The practice of self-medication can make a person’s mental illness symptoms worsen, lead to addiction, and can be extremely dangerous.

Alcohol and substance use disorders are forms of mental health disease. Such conditions can arise for several reasons, and there isn’t an available cure currently. Fortunately, evidence-based treatments exist; and, recovery is attainable with professional help. Addictive disorders are manageable, provided those living with these types of mental disease work a program of maintenance.

Current research indicates that people living with mental illness are at higher risk of developing comorbid disorders. More than half of individuals who receive addiction treatment also meet the criteria for co-occurring mental illness, also known as a “dual diagnosis.” When more than one psychiatric condition impacts a patient, it’s paramount that each disease receive concurrent treatment.

Each co-occurring disorder case is different, in fact; depression, for instance, can present in the wake of addiction, or the other way around. When patients are not adequately screened for mental illnesses, they are apt to languish. Unbearable symptoms beg for relief, and individuals will resort to mind-altering substances to anesthetize their mental pain.

Self-medication may provide some comfort, initially, but experts believe that over time the drugs and alcohol aggravate the condition or worse. One debilitating condition often leads to two; and, more substantial lengths of treatment may be required to stabilize the patient. If a person seeks rehab for addiction, the clinicians must address any dual diagnosis. Ignoring one or the other increases the risk of relapse significantly.

Cannabis to Cope with Mental Illness

NorthStar Transitions: Denver operates in a state that has a liberal attitude toward cannabis. The Centennial State is among the first to legalize marijuana; recreational cannabis dispensaries opened on January 1, 2014. While the pros and cons of legalization will continue to be the subject of debate for years to come, people living with depression and anxiety should think twice.

As mentioned above, the use of psychoactive substances like marijuana can exacerbate symptoms of mental illness. The drug has a different effect on each person; some are more affected than others. More research is necessary to better understand the relationship between cannabis and mental health.

Serious psychological distress (SPD) includes mental health problems severe enough to cause moderate-to-serious impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning and to require treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). SPD’s and the use of marijuana is the subject of new research in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health found a significant increase in daily cannabis use among people with past-month SPD. Compared to individuals without severe psychological distress, people with SPD used cannabis daily at nearly three times the rate.

The study shows that 2.7 percent of adults without SPD engaged in past-month use, ScienceDaily reports. Conversely, 8 percent of adults with mental illness consumed cannabis daily. The data comes from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a sample of 356,413 men and women.

“Our research found that persons with SPD reported higher daily cannabis prevalence each study year,” said senior author Renee Goodwin, Ph.D., Department of Epidemiology. “Therefore, it is important to consider potential consequences of this increased use for those with mental health vulnerabilities.”

Denver Dual Diagnosis Treatment

At NorthStar Transitions: Denver, we can help you or a loved one identify and manage many types of co-occurring disorders. Those who struggle with cannabis use disorder and co-occurring mental illness can lead healthy and productive lives in recovery. Our exceptionally trained substance use disorder professionals and board-certified psychiatrist help clients achieve recovery success.

Please reach out to us today and learn more about the NST difference. (303) 558-6400


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